Family Law in Florida is Diverse
Family Law in Florida covers a wide variety of cases; all of which deal with domestic issues in one way or another. However, just because there is a domestic component to a case, does not make it a family law case. For example, take two adult siblings fighting over a parents estate; while no one will disagree that it is clearly a family dispute, that would be an issue for the probate courts to address.
The Florida Circuit Courts have jurisdiction over all family law matters. In Florida, there are 20 circuits and 67 counties. Some larger counties, such as Miami-Dade County (Eleventh Circuit), Broward County (Seventeenth Circuit), Palm Beach County (Fifteenth Circuit) and Hillsborough County (Thirteenth Circuit), are so large they are the only county in their circuit. Most circuits, however, cover three or more counties, for example, the Fourth Circuit (Duval, Nassau and Clay Counties) and Twentieth Circuit (Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry Counties). Click here to find out which Circuit your County is in and for links to each Circuit Court website [https://www.flcourts.org/Florida-Courts/Trial-Courts-Circuit].
It is important to note that all trials in family law cases are “bench trials.” A bench trial is where you try the case to the judge and the judge determines what to believe and how to rule. This is opposed to a jury trial where the case is tried to the jury, the jury determines what to believe, then the judge rules according to the law based on what the jury found to be factually correct.
Types of Cases: What does Family Law cover?
Family Law in Florida deals with parties who are married, divorced and/or have children together. These include the following types of cases:
- Divorce (a/k/a dissolution of marriage);
- Paternity (a divorce without the divorce);
- Child Support (administrative proceedings brought by Florida’s Department of Revenue);
- Enforcement Actions (after you’ve been divorced or paternity has been established and the other side isn’t doing what they’ve been ordered to do by the Court);
- Modifications (changing part of the court order because there has been a substantial, significant and unanticipated change in material circumstance);
- Relocation with Minor Child (moving more than 50 miles away from your current residence);
- Domestic Violence (assault, battery, false imprisonment, etc.);
- Adoptions; and
- Termination of Parental Rights.
Divorce cases are the most common types of cases filed in the Florida Family Law Circuit Courts. The issues that arise in divorce cases include parental responsibility, timesharing and child support (if there are minor or dependent children), as well as equitable distribution of marital assets/debts, alimony and attorney fees (regardless of whether the parties have children or not). Click here to learn more about Divorce in Florida.
Paternity cases are becoming more common with each passing year. The times are changing and social dynamics are not what they were even 10 or 15 years ago. There is no longer the same social stigma attached to being a single parent. As a result, many young people are choosing to live together and have children together, but not get married. So long as the parents work to create a loving environment and encourage a close relationship between the other parent and the child(ren), it doesn’t bother us how people choose to live their lives. That said, fathers who have children with women they’re not married to can find themselves in a number of interesting (and potentially dangerous) situations because of how Florida Paternity Laws are structured. Click here to learn more about Father’s Rights in Florida and how you can better protect yourself.
Child Support is a mandatory part of each paternity case and in divorce cases where there are minor children involved. While every divorce or paternity case with a minor child requires that child support be addressed, the inverse does not hold true. Child support can be ordered by the court without the court addressing parental responsibility or timesharing…and it probably happens more often than you think. Those situations commonly arise when parties with a minor child separate. If you have a child support case in Florida that is not connected to a divorce or paternity case, click here to learn more about Florida Child Support.
Domestic Partnership Disputes. If you are not married and do not have children together, but you lived together as a married couple would and held yourself out as such, that could be considered a common law marriage. While there is no such thing as Common Law Marriage in Florida, you may still have some partnership rights in that situation and a legitimate claim to be made. That said, if you do have a valid claim, it will need to be brought in the appropriate court and division…the Family Law Division in the Florida Circuit Courts is not that place. The lawyers at Divorce Happens have successfully handled many types of partnership disputes over the years (many of them dealing with claims and assets exceeding a million dollars).
Miller Law Philosophy
Our philosophy is that when someone has been wronged, the law provides a remedy to make it right. Every case has its own unique set of facts and circumstances. If you think you may have a claim to make but you’re not sure if it’s something we can help you with or not, give us a call. We’re happy to hear what the situation is and see what we can do to help you.